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18Jan

Asylum Road by Olivia Sudjic review – quiet menace on a trip to Sarajevo

The fragmentations of the Balkan war and Brexit are never far from the surface in this confident, timely novel

“My writing often feels like a struggle to communicate some danger,” Olivia Sudjic says in her extended essay Exposure, the follow-up and postmortem to her debut novel, Sympathy. Her second, Asylum Road, is narrated by a young woman, Anya, whose detached observations of her own actions and inner monologue feel as if they are struggling to convey an underlying menace. Anya is neurotic, paranoid; she spends her nights arguing on the internet about Brexit: “It was not the specifics of opposing arguments that upset me, but that the things I held on to, which kept me from being sucked back into the past, were coming loose.”

Anya’s mother, suffering from Alzheimer’s, is trapped in the time of the siege, convinced they are still being shelled

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